Starring Zach Braff, Joey King, Pierce Gagnon, Kate Hudson
Directed by Zach Braff, written by Adam J. and Zach Braff
IMDB Rating: 6.7
This offering by the Braff family is not quite what you would think it is. This finding-yourself comedy may fit in a fairly unique bracket, but does trying to mix moving moments and laugh-out-loud jokes really work?
Wish I Was Here follows wannabe actor Aidan Bloom (Braff) and his office sentenced wife Sarah (Hudson) and their two private-schooled children Grace and Tucker (King & Pierce). When Aidan’s father, who had paid for private schooling for Grace and Tucker, is stricken with cancer he is forced to pull the plug on the school fees. With no money for private schooling, Aidan decides to home-school the kids. Meanwhile, not having the money makes Sarah question Aidan’s desperate (and failed) quest to become an actor, forcing Aidan to look at himself and what Sarah had to give up to support him.
The story itself is not quite moving, but is so much more heartfelt than you would think. I went in to this expecting it to be a flat-out comedy, but it turned out being an almost inspirational film that makes you take a look at yourself as well as looking at the lives of the characters. However, the Braff’s measure this with splashes of colour and comedy that stop this film becoming the drama it could have been. In terms of comedy, the jokes are not that great. There’s not that many true laugh-out-loud moments in this, and you do get the feeling that the light comedy is being used to offset the actual thinking that goes on in the movie.
The acting in this film is just okay. Braff shows some emotion, and the same can be said about Kate Hudson, but it’s not exactly anything to write home about. If I had to pick the best out of them I would say Braff, but only just. Joey King is good as the emotional daughter, but again I’ve seen better child performances than in this movie.
The Directing by Zach Braff in this film is pretty solid. There are some really good shots, and some scenes that show Braff has great potential as a director, and hopefully when he calls time on acting he will focus on this. However, there was so many different styles attempted in one film that it kind of felt like a grad students first project – it was as if he wanted to show everyone that he could do everything, but there was no real theme to the shots. If he wants to, he could be a really stylish director, he just needs to work out what his style actually is first.
Overall this was totally not the film I was expecting. Early on I questioned whether seeing Zach Braff in a moving film would work, but he pulls it off and by the end I was convinced! There’s two ways you can look at this – it’s either tried to be two things at once, or it’s cleverly mixed comedy into a heart-warming story. I think it’s the latter, but it will really be each to their own with this middle-of-the-park movie!